How to be Proactive, 1st habit to be effective

Hello Everyone,

Last year I read the book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people.’ In this book, the author Stephen R. Covey has described 7 habits which will help you in being more effective, productive and help you in balancing your life well. When I was reading this book, I thought that only one post will be an injustice for this book, because the wisdom which the author has shared is immense. So I thought that I will post a series of posts talking about 7 habits individually. In today’s post, I will talk about the first habit, which is ‘Be Proactive.’ I will talk about what is called being a proactive person and how you can become one. So, without any delay, let’s get started.

What is Proactivity?

First thing first, what is proactivity? Proactivity means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. What we do, how we face a situation is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.

To understand this better let’s look at an example- imagine there’s a couple facing problems in their relationship, fights and complaining was getting common day by day. Between all this the woman decided to deal with the situation differently, she decides to do whatever is in her control to save the relationship. She planned dates, just like she used to do earlier, she gave her partner flowers and wrote beautiful notes, and she started listening to her partner’s point of view and tried to understand his point of view. Instead of complaining, she started working on her relationship, and it was this effort which made her partner change his behaviour. In this situation the woman consciously made the decision to not let condition ruin her relationship, instead, she took the charge and responsibility and tried her best to make it better.

This is what is called being proactive, doing things which are in your control and making the situations better for yourself. She believed that her behaviour has the power to change the situation, and her behaviour is in her control.

Reactive and Proactive

There are two types of people, reactive and proactive. Before understanding the difference between two let me present a quote from the book.

“Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.”

For reactive people there is nothing in between stimulus and response, they face a stimulus and respond to it. While for proactive people there is a choice, and they take responsibility for this choice. Look at the word responsibility- “response-ability”- the ability to choose your response.

be proactive
be proactive

*Three diagrams shown in the post are from the book ‘The 7 habits of effective people’

How to know in what category do you fall?

Now the question arises is in what type do you fall? To know this assess your language. There is a difference between the language of reactive people and proactive people. Reactive people feel increasingly victimized and out of control, not in charge of their life or their destiny. They use language which shows they are not responsible for their situation and cannot choose their response. ‘There’s nothing I can do,’ ‘He makes me so sad,’ ‘They won’t allow that’ are some of the phrases commonly heard in reactive person’s language.

While proactive people feel responsible for their situation and believe in their ability to change their situation. They do not give the power to the bad conditions, they choose their responses and make the situation better. We can hear the phrases like- ‘Let’s look at our alternatives,’ ‘I can choose a different approach,’ ‘I prefer’ in their language.

How to be Proactive

Now that you know in which category you fall, you can decide if you want to read this post further or not. 😀

If you are already a proactive person then it’s all good, but if you fall in the reactive category, then there is nothing wrong in that, we all can change ourselves for better (only if we want to). So let’s talk about how we can be proactive:

  1. The first step is to take responsibility for your situation. The moment you take the responsibility you realize that you have the power to change it, no one else can do, only you can change your situation.
  2. Work in your circle of influence: According to Stephen R. Covey, we can also assess ourselves and know if we are proactive or reactive by looking at where we focus our time and energy.

We all have a number of things which concerns us, for example, our health issues, our problems at workplace, our loans, climate change etc. Let’s categorize these things in our Circle of Concern. Now within these concerns, there are many things on which we have no control, for example, climate, or how our boss treats us, but there are things on which we have our control. For example, we have control over our tasks in our office, we can make sure to do our tasks nicely, or we can grow more plants in our house backyard for our climate change concern. Let’s identify these concerns in another circumscribed circle within the Circle of Concern and call it ‘Circle of Influence.’

be proactive
Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence

Proactive people invest their time and energy on the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they do something about, and as they keep on focusing on their circle of influence, it keeps on increasing in size.

For example, I am looking for a job right now, now getting a new job is in my circle of concern, but keep on checking for job vacancies and applying there on time with showing my best side is in my circle of influence. So it is my choice to get worried about getting a new job or actually looking for it and doing my best in applying there.

And that’s it, I think I tried my best to summarize the first habit of the book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people.’ All three diagrams and insights are from the book only. But if you want to learn more about it then definitely go for this book. In fact, I would say this book is a must-read for everyone.

If you want to read a review of another self-help book then you can read it here- The Road less travelled by M. Scott Peck, The subtle art of not giving a f*ck. I will take your leave now, will see you in the next post with the second habit. Till then keep celebrating life.

With Love.


1 Like
Tangled Tourista
Tangled Tourista is an online diary, which is about travel, food and books. Here you will read about book reviews and suggestions, tested travelling tips and about new cafes and restaurants around and their reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *